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I gave you every break possible. You had a 50-50 chance. You weren’t even close.

17 Mar

A point on the road and avoiding defeat. Something you’d normally be ok with. Moreso with one of your main promotion rivals falling to a 3-0 defeat. Yet there’s nothing but a hollow feeling this morning off the back of as frustrating an evening as they come. Brentford were held 2-2 at Wayne Rooney’s Derby County in a game that saw us electric in the first half and anonymous in the second. Early goals from Ivan Toney and Sergi Canos setting our stall out but there was always the feeling that missed opportunities, primarily one from Bryan Mbeumo, may come back to bite us in the second period. Its Brentford, innit? Yet there was no legislating for how costly our inability to punish opponents when they were looking dead on their feet would ultimately transpire to be. The aforementioned defeat for Swansea City at Bournemouth providing scant relief in the face of our own disappearance and Watford cruising past Rotherham 4-1. Saturday’s game with Nottingham Forest will be huge. Another early kick off to try and lay down a marker. A chance to exorcise the demons of the second half.

Cripes, it all started so well. A return for Pontus Jansson alongside Winston Reid at centre back in his first game of the year. Wayne Roon etc etc  Derby County so anonymous in that opening period we could have filled the defence with a couple of paper bags fluttering around randomly in the breeze and we’d have been just as safe. Bryan Mbeumo and Sergi Canos, the other change to the team, driving us forward. Norgaard and, especially Janelt, imperious in the middle. Vitaly winning every ball and breaking with speed. Ivan Toney doing his thing from the penalty spot once more with less than ten minutes gone after Mbeumo had been felled in the box. No complaints from Derby and about as stonewall as they come.  

It was another one stroked home to the bottom corner. Another one preceded by that most heart stoping of almost nonchalant ambling up to the ball before unleashing a trademark precision strike. 1-0 up and soon it was double. Canos getting our second from the corner of the box with a fine shot, hit low into the corner. Tariqe Fosu may feel hard done by, and personally I thought he’d retain his spot following the game at Blackburn, but Sergi was there to to do what he does. To show the critics just why he deserves his chance.

2-0. Sergi did his thing…

In between these came the Mbeumo opportunity. Jensen bursting clear and squaring to the unmarked wideman. He was clear, albeit on the angle, but  somehow managed to hit it painfully wide rather than coming close to even troubling Derby ‘keeper Kelle Roos. It wasn’t the only chance we had in that period but certainly the clearest. The sort that might have had Ian Moose punching the directions to the training ground into his sat nav. With the pressure building and the Derby goal being peppered, it was the sort of half where we felt hard done by in ‘only’ scoring twice. Arrogant? Not really. More symptomatic of the possession we’d enjoyed and chances we’d created in one of the most intense periods of football we’ve played this season. Yet, as we all know, stats and chances count for nothing if you can’t turn them into goals. If the first half had been nothing but Brentford, the second period saw the baton handed to our hosts in quite remarkable style.

Wayne Rooney has been lauded for the triple substitution he made as the players returned. Rightly so. Derby hadn’t been at the races and drastic action was needed.. There was no messing around. No further opportunity for the no-shows to redeem themselves. Instead, a change in set up was the decision and what a reaction. Within minutes they’d pulled the first goal back. Nathan Byrne bursting down the right and squaring the ball for Louie Watson with the simplest of chances. He made no mistake as he steered home from close in. Now we had a game on our hands. Now we saw 2-0 and dominant become 2-1 and wobbly with almost the entire second period to play. Brentford resembling nothing more than punch drunk boxer. Derby raining strike after strike in a bid to find that knockout blow. The Bees on the ropes, offering nothing. Hanging on to a 2-1 lead and waiting until the final twenty minutes to start making changes. 

The arrival of Tariqe Fosu providing some respite as we began to open up the Rams but there was little end product from anyone to provide a genuine threat to Roos. The feeling that a second Derby goal was coming growing by the minute and then, with the clock reading 86, it arrived. Louie Sibley making the opportunity for himself and then unleashing a fine curler past David Raya. 2-2. Game over, man. Game over. A point gained but a match that feels like nothing except a gut busting defeat. Even having slept on it. We could have put it out of sight in the first half, true, but it was more our complete inability to even come close to keeping pace with our opponents in the second that is the real mystery. Our inability to get even close to the ball or hang on to it when we did pick it up that I can’t get my head around. You have to credit Wayne Rooney and his side, of course. Yet at the same time, it takes two teams to play a game of football and there was only one present in the second 45. Thomas is going to have to give the mother of all pep talks today in the build up to the TV game with Nottingham Forest on Saturday lunchtime. 

Win that one and we overtake a Swansea City team who then have their challenge with Cardiff City the visitors. Win that one and we close back in on second place Watford ahead of their visit from Birmingham City. Let’s hope Lee Bowyer is ten times the better manager than the recently displaced Aitor Karanka.

Yesterday started off badly with the sad news of Yaphet Kotto passing at the age of 81. To cinema goers, he was best known for his roles as William Laughlin in The Running Man, Parker in Alien and, of course, Doctor Kananga in Live and Let Die. The role that saw him face off against the best Bond, Roger Moore, trading one liners and high end fashion with 007. As full time went at Pride Park, I couldn’t help but think back to his own impassioned speech to tarot reader Solitaire (Jane Seymour) upon discovering her betrayal as he despaired, “I gave you every break possible. You had a 50-50 chance. You weren’t even close.

The highlights are up. Somewhere. I’m not sure I can face watching them again today. The post match catch up last night was painful enough. No team has a right to win every game. It’s not the fact we lost, sorry drew, that hurts, but more the manner of our no show. Instead, perhaps time to crack open the Bond collection instead. Time to switch off from football for a few days.

See you on Saturday for Nottingham Forest. Maybe sooner.   

Deadly rivals face off.

Nick Bruzon

Rams await as Sergi speaks out.

16 Mar

Tuesday night. Another round of fixtures at the business end of the Championship table. The weekend played out with Brentford seeing our own win on the road matched by away wins for Swansea, Barnsley and Watford on Saturday. Norwich picking up three points the following day. Now, we’ve another chance to see if things can change around any. For the Bees, a trip to Wayne Rooney’s Derby County awaits. The Hornets are at Rotherham whilst Steve Cooper’s side face a trip to Bournemouth. Themselves, once looking nailed on for automatic and now trying to play catch up to the play-off pack. How quickly things can change. How quickly they can return with a few wins on the bounce. Easier said than done, of course. Elsewhere, Sergi Canos has spoken to Sky Sports about his own return from injury and the social media abuse being handed out this season by some of our followers.

Sergi got 3 out of 3 against Cardiff City

First up, Brentford face Derby County at 7pm this evening. The Rams are very much at the wrong end of the table compared to recent seasons and whilst relegation is probably not a subject on the agenda, they’ll want to start picking up a few points to make sure. Should Birmingham City start winning a few Derby may find themselves sucked in once Rotherham’s mammoth four games in hand play out. Stranger things have happened.

They’ll need to start finding the back of the net though. Saturday’s home loss to Millwall was their fourth game in a row without troubling the scorers. The sort of stat that always makes me angsty. I’ve been following Brentford far too long to take anything of that nature for granted. Following football far too long, to be fair. Complacency is the mother of all f*ck ups and we’ll need to be at our very best tonight. Pride Park never an easy place to go, regardless of how well our opponents are playing. The Championship a division where anyone can beat anyone. Something we’ve said many, many times. Mainly because it’s true. All being well a philosophy Watford and Swansea City will be on the receiving end of this evening. Much as we need to focus on ourselves only, let’s not pretend we won’t be keeping an eye on those other results.

The good news is the Bees played out of their skins to beat Blackburn Rovers on Friday night. Rock solid at the back and dominant in midfield. Winston Reid and Ethan Pinnock (a player I saw described afterwards as a ‘heading machine’) locking it up in the CB positions. The combination of Vitaly Janelt and the returning Christian Norgaard made the midfield a dream to behold. Ivan Toney doing what Ivan Toney does. Scoring. It was the sort of game that might have seen us pegged back or even beaten in days gone by. This time around, we held our nerve and took three crucial points. More of the same tonight would do very nicely, thank you. Here’s hoping everyone remains fit as, if so, I can’t see Thomas changing anything up. Sergi Canos the obvious choice to come in but given how the team played, I’d imagine he’ll have to be content with a place on the bench and trying to make his usual high energy impact.

Ah, Sergi Canos. What can you say? Well, if we’re on these pages its only going to be positive stuff. Or, at least, fair.  Then again, any regular reader (should such a concept exist) will know that. Aside from being our Harry’s favourite player he’s one of those you can’t help but love. The passion, the desire, the team spirit. The goals. The speed. The enthusiasm. The love for Brentford and our fans. Sure, he’s had his off days but who hasn’t ? The season has been a long one and players must be knackered. Moreso coming off the delayed end to the previous campaign. For Sergi, there was also that injury suffered at Nottingham Forest that kept him out for the best part of 2019/20. It’s amazing to think that at only 24 years old he’s fast closing in on his 200th Brentford appearance. 

Yet all this hasn’t stopped a quite bizarre hate campaign, bullying even, from a sub-strata of apparent fans on Twitter this season. Criticism and objective comment is one thing but this has been nothing short of consistent bile. Poison. Keyboard warriors at their very worst. We all know who they are. Their crud keeps popping up. You can try to avoid but still it appears. Frankly, I’ll call it out anyway. We can pretend it isn’t going on but it is. See also: FrankOut. Err…..?? Our team have been on an upward trajectory all season, everyone wants the same thing – promotion – and moreso after the frustration of how last season played out. So how does a ‘special’ group think they can help? By putting the boot in to one of the players trying to achieve that goal. Go figure. And sure enough, Sergi has seen it.

His interview with Dan Long on the SkySports website is here. Everyone should read this. Regardless your opinion on the player. WE all have favourites. We all have players whom, perhaps, we may inwardly groan when we see their name on the team sheet. My word, some of those to have worn the red and white over the years…. Cripes, it makes your hair curl to think back. Yet despite all of this we’ve supported them through thick and thin. Certainly, at the time. No matter how frustrating it was. And that’s been the (relatively) crap ones. The sad thing being Sergi’s actually ‘any good’. Yet the lemmings have had it in for him. His own comments sum it up..  

Normally, when you are not injured, you are playing and you manage that criticism during the season, but because I was going from zero to 100, it did affect me a little bit because it wasn’t only coming back from injury, it was also handling that pressure and that criticism from everyone. It was quite shocking because it was all at once. It didn’t help me, I’m not going to lie.

Perhaps it’ll subside. Perhaps just one person might change their choice of words or think before committing comment to social media. Might also consider the mental health of players. Just because they have the dream job and the public eye doesn’t make them immune to a constant barrage of abuse. Be kind, everyone. Would you say it to his face? Well, we all know the answer to that. 

I’m glad Sergi has said his thing. It’s a shame he has had to but it’s nothing we haven’t been banging about for months on these pages. Now, perhaps, everyone can just shut the heck up and back our boys. All of them. There’s 11 games to go and every point, every goal, is going to be crucial. Starting tonight at Derby County.

I’d love to be there in person. Instead, it’ll be time spent on the sofa with Mark Burridge. Metaphoriocally speaking. Sky also have it on the red button. See you there. In spirit.

Amazing to think this was 2015 yet he’s only 24

Nick Bruzon

Now let’s unmask this phoney fan and see who she really is…

10 Dec

Brentford 0 , Wayne Rooney’s (interim) Derby County 0. The Bees made it ten unbeaten on a night that, being honest, was as frustrating on pitch as it was exciting off. We head into the weekend, sitting 7th (seventh) in the Championship. A win away from Bournemouth in the automatic spots and facing the prospect of a trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon. Themselves, victims by the odd goal in three at table topping Norwich City and sure to be raging after going behind, again, just after they’d hauled themselves back in to it last night. Yet the fact that we’re already talking about another team is, perhaps, subconsciously telling us all we need to know about last night at Lionel Road. My word that was hard going.

For the supporters taking their turn on the ticket merry go round, you could see and hear what this meant. Social media was awash with more positivity and photos. It sounded great from the TV and just imagine what the noise will be like when the stadium is eventually allowed to be full (scientists calculate that as being approximately 2032). 

Back home we had the intriguing combination of witnessing this in the company of Natalie Sawyer and Jonathan Douglas sitting with Mark and Mick in the commentary box. Fate bringing together one of our more recognisable fans alongside a former player who is a hero to just about all Brentford supporters. They seemed to go well together !  Mark was in there with his Cameron Diaz story  – pretty sure I heard her name mentioned on more than one occasion – as her fake fandom was once again put into the minds of all true Bees (and if you’d like to read more, then let’s never forget her celebrity supporter status, or lack of, being unmasked on national radio…).

Now lets unmask this imposter

Again, though, we’re digressing from the main event. When Brentford fans (or lack of) are the talking point then we’re probably in the right ball park after a gritty 0-0. It was one that saw us unable to break through the eleven men Wayne Roo… (can we just call them Derby County and take the Rooney bit as read?) had packed behind the ball. 59% possession for Brentford (I’d have had it as more) and 12 shots only tell part of the story. The crucial factor being that not one of those was on target. That when the chances came, we blazed high. We fired wide. We didn’t trouble their goalkeeper. Bryan Mbeumo, starting this one alongside Sergi and Ivan, had the best of these. It seemed harder to miss than score yet he managed the former when he found himself just yards out early in the second half with the goal gaping.

That’s football. Ideally the game doesn’t hang on one chance. Vitaly Janelt had a pair of shots from distance early on as it looked like it was simply going to be a matter of time before the floodgates opened. ‘This is going to be 0-0’ said Mrs. Bruzon early on. Hmm. What does she know? Rico’s on fire. Sergi has picked up where he left off against Blackburn. Ivan is the division’s top scorer. Alas, as with everything in life, she was right. Josh Dasilva also had his moment but couldn’t quite find a way through in a game where Thomas Frank noted at full time that, “We created five big chances but didn’t have the sharpness or quality in the decisive moments.

Too true, Thomas. His team selection was strong enough. The opposition came to do a job on us and they succeeded. No complaints there. An away point from a promotion chasing team no bad thing in their eyes, I’m sure. For Brentford, though, can there be any positives? 

Well yes, of course there are. The unbeaten sequence aside, it was another clean sheet. It was another game without Christian Norgaard – a player that I’m intrigued to see playing with Vitaly Janelt. Too similar or the making of Brentford 2021? It was another solid performance from Mads Bech Sørensen. It was another point that keeps us well in contention. This time last season we were eighth with 27 from 17 games played. This time around we are one point and one position better off. Not so much clutching at straws after a ‘challenging’ 90 minutes but more the case of looking at the table with fresh eyes having slept on it following, rather than during, the game.

For me, Clive, the frustrating thing is as much seeing Said Benrahma keeping the bench warm at West Ham. The reasons for selling (sorry, loaning) him are clear to all and so there are no complaints there. He wanted his move to the top flight and the money will be very good for us. Yet last night was the sort of game where having a player of his unique ability could have been the difference between the win and the eventual draw. He’d have decimated them, had he been on his game.

There’s no benefit in crying over who we don’t have but at the same time there has been a clear gauntlet thrown down which, to date, none of the wider players have consistently looked like picking up. We’re solid at the back. We drive forward in midfield. The goals are coming up top (normally). Unlocking that final area of the pitch is the challenge. It’s great that the full backs can overlap in such style but Rico must be knackered. Thomas can only pick from his available squad and, perhaps, it will be a return to the combination of Canos, Forss and Toney that serves us best against Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Go for it from the off and see what happens. 

For now, though, it IS another point and another game where we’ve had some more of the fans back in. Long may that continue. ( Did somebody say Tier 3…..…?). Derby County are still languishing in the bottom three and we’ve a trip to another of their relegation rivals to look forward to this weekend. Chris Hughton’s recent record at Forest is on a par with Simply Red’s greatest hits – short and terrible. LLDLL from the last five doesn’t make good reading. 

So I’m happy still. It wasn’t a great spectacle but one game is only a small part of the bigger picture. A picture which is a frenetic, non-stop season with games coming week on week on week. I’d love to have won but in the end we’re as lucky not to have lost. Derby had their own chance(s) late on and that post is still rattling.

Move along. Nothing to see here. Instead, its one for the record books and the ongoing hope that, one day, perhaps Cameron might just check what she is missing out on. Hey, if its good enough for Ryan Reynolds and Wrexham….. Yet even if she does, somehow, appear Natalie will always remain Queen Bee.

Nick Bruzon 

Hamer House Of Horror. Killer Bees do it again but now face awful prospect.

12 Jul

Oh. My. Word. Even by current Brentford standards that was just ridiculous. Wayne Rooney’s Derby County swept away 3-1 to make it a magnificent 7 (seven) wins on the spin for The Bees. Saïd Benrahma on fire and Ollie Watkins back to the top of the Championship goal scorer charts after giving us the lead with less than four minutes on the clock. West Bromwich Albion subsequently held 1-1 at Blackburn Rovers, despite taking the lead, and now just three points ahead. Likewise, Leeds United, although they play their game in hand today against Swansea City. That’ll be a Swansea team who know that victory will see them hit the play-off zone. It’s all getting crazy exciting. And that’s before we get to the most bonkers bit of all – Tuesday night will see us all cheering on, err, Fulham… Open brackets: for one game only, not a typo, purely due to longer term potential benefit. Close brackets.

First things first, Brentford. It was a day of miracles. Not least our family managing to avoid the scores all day long until our return home at 8pm. Phones off. Wine opened. Game successfully recorded. Sit back on the couch and let enjoyment begin. But enough about studio pundit Sam Saunders and the returning Sergi Canos. 

Screenshot 2020-07-12 at 08.12.04

Sergi was back

Within moments, any stress had melted away. Ollie Watkins popping up at the back post with the wine still breathing. 1-0 Brentford. Derby left floundering as the Bees sliced them apart. The neighbours presumably thinking we’d lost the plot. Screaming our heads off and dancing around the front room like a bunch of loons. Game on. What a start. What Manager of the month curse?      

It was shortly after that I chose to remind Mrs. Bruzon of the game at Pride Park a few years back where we’d been 1-0 up, missed chance after chance before being pegged back at the death. Lightning doesn’t strike twice though. Does it….?

So of course, Jason Knight chose to level things and serve up a plate with some words, a knife and a fork. Hey, it’s not easy being a numpty on the couch . Words were well and truly eaten. Washed down with the obligatory ‘goal sweet’ (one Starmix per person per goal, regardless of which team scores).

Still, 1-1 at half time. Brentford looking comfortable. Rooney and (eighteen year old – are we still doing that?) Louie Sibley keeping the hosts alive. Norgaard and the defence snuffing out pretty much anything, as ever. Pontus fired up and putting himself about. Pinnock a rock. Roerslev overlapping down the right in lieu of the benched Henrik Dalsgaard and Rico Henry on the other flank doing his level best to become this season’s unsung hero.

Sam Saunders came on to do his half time thing and then thirty minutes later we all settled down to watch the second period. Oh. wow. One can’t even begin to imagine what Thomas did with his white board at half time. Brentford went ballistic. Derby were obliterated. The Bees starting at 100mph once more with man of the moment Said Benrahma restoring the lead as quickly as Ollie had done first time around.

His shot from distance going at, through and past former Bee Ben Hamer. It had no right to go in but, frankly, at this stage of the campaign we’ll take any gifts offered. The shake of the head from Derby manager Phillip Cocu said it all. As did the smile on the face of Saïd. It was as awful a moment for the home side as it was enjoyable for us. A real horror show of a moment but you don’t score goals without taking shots. Sometimes they go in.

Hamer had another spillage soon after, somehow flapping it just past the back stick, before he was beaten by a strike of ridiculous quality from the Algerian wideman. Stepping in from the left wing, Saïd curled it from outside the box and into the top corner on the far side. Hamer diving but not even getting close to it. Cocu would later bemoan the space offered to Benrahma by the two defenders nearest him but the form he is in at present, you wouldn’t bet against him doing that with blindfold on. It was a quite special goal from the man who continues to exceed even his own incredible standards.

Little over an hour gone. 3-1 up and in complete cruise control. The final 25 minutes passed in a blur of red wine and wotsits. The bench was used to full effect although there was to be no return to action for Sergi Canos. Yet. Who knows what the visit of Preston may bring on Wednesday evening.

And what a match that promises to be. The beauty about watching yesterday’s game on an 8 hour time delay meant the West Bromwich Albion result was already in the bag before we even hit play. So huddled around the laptop there was a scroll upwards through the results for the big reveal. Charlton.. Derby…. Barnsley…. Blackburn….. YESSSSSS!!! Oh my. 1-1. More screaming. The police knocking on the door having received a report from the neighbours. Not literally but nothing would have surprised me, given the reaction at that moment ! Oh.. My… Can we be manager of the month every week, please ?

All of which means that the Baggies are three points ahead of us but with inferior goal difference and on level games. Three left to play. Fulham visit the Hawthorns on Tuesday evening, knowing that any aspirations they have for ‘automatic’ are 100% reliant on their winning that one.

Which means if they do, and then we beat play-off chasing Preston on Wednesday, we’ll finish the day in second place. At the least. Leeds still have to host Swansea today and then aren’t in action again until their home banker with Barnsley on Thursday. They’re still as good as up but, put simply, wins for Swansea, Fulham and Brentford will see us top on Wednesday night. 

I appreciate one shouldn’t be looking too far ahead. Thomas Frank has been adamant about that as he attempts to keep his players’ feet on the ground. Yet, at the same time, one has to dream. It’s what football fans do. We look at the next game. We look at what other results may do. And if it means that we need to wish Fulham well for one night only, then let’s at least be ready for that awful prospect. Crack open the Victoria sponge, pour yourself a G&T and dig Thriller out of the record collection. See you next Tuesday for that horror show.

All that’s to come. I don’t want have to consider the prospect overly. Perhaps taking a leaf out of Thomas’ book is the way to go. Just check the result at full time. Besides, any emotional investment in foam fingers counts for nothing if we don’t do it in what is a huge challenge against Preston. Perhaps that’s where the focus really needs to be.

For now, though, let’s pause to reflect on where we have got to. How close we are to what would be a quite incredible conclusion to the season. At are very least, we are guaranteed a play-off place. A few more results in our favour, combined with this quite scintillating form continuing, and  who knows what may happen……  

Screenshot 2020-07-12 at 08.09.42

Brentford ‘official’ Twitter capture the moment at full time

Nick Bruzon

We are now in virgin territory. Have all jinxes been reset?

11 Jul

Nooooooo. With Brentford sitting pretty in the Championship, disaster has struck. I don’t give a monkey about Leeds United beating Stoke City 5-0 on Thursday night. Well done. Seriously. You’re going to make it up now and won’t throw it from here. West Bromwich Albion are the team to go for. Nor do I particularly care that Fulham won last night, taking them third on the basis of having played their game earlier than the rest. If we are to have any realistic hope of that automatic place then we need to win today. Something that will also see us climb back above the Cottagers. Those are the facts of the situation yet none are anything compared to the curveball delivered on Friday  morning. Ahead of our trip to Wayne Rooney’s Derby County, Thomas Frank has only been declared the winner of June’s ‘Manager Of The Month’ award. 

Screenshot 2020-07-11 at 07.28.28

Congratulations, Thomas

Nooooooo. We all know what this means. The ‘jinx’ of Manager of the Month is now in play. A piece of footballing folklore even older than ‘the curse of Clem’ is now lurking in the wings. That one, seeing a visit from everyone’s favourite roving reporter for a Football League Show / Football Focus feature normally followed by a defeat or draw. Something statistically demonstrated on these pages during our Clemwatch feature over season 2014-15 and which, equally, does no harm to remind ourselves of. If only for what came next.

Starting with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford. The Hornets lead with all other results going their way, the title was in their grasp. With the BBC showing 90 minutes, Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished at 1-1. The title lost, with the final goal. All under Clem’s watchful eye. In 30 features, the Clem ‘team’ only won 7(seven) times.

Clem table rd 11 ipswich

Behind bars but no escape from ‘the curse’

Yet that worm has then turned and how. No sooner had The Football League show run it’s course than things changed for the better. A complete 180 was performed and these days a visit from Clem comes with victory as good as assured. He has gone from albatross to some form of footballing St.Bernard. A rescue dog – bringing three points rather than a barrel of brandy slung around his neck. Something that has been proven time and again in recent campaigns. Most notably just a week ago after we thumped Wigan Athletic 3-0.

And if Clem proves that things can change, then how about Manager of the Month? My word, if anyone has the confidence and the talent to do this then it is Thomas Frank. The togetherness he has inspired was demonstrated in the award photo which , rather than the typical pose of manager holding trophy, was a shot of the set up at Jersey Road. Head coach and Club staff as one.  

Then chuck in to the mix the fact that winning the award in June is surely a first? Ordinarily, May sees the final Manager Of The Month prize handed out. The extension of the season has meant that we are now in virgin territory. Have all omens been reset? Could this be a chance for this most feared of prizes to rebrand itself it in the public eye?

Screenshot 2020-07-11 at 07.49.28

Thomas and Clem prove that positivity can triumph. Things can change for the better

 Whatever else, scooping this one shows just what we have achieved. How solid a unit we have been to date. The performance against Charlton on Tuesday night proved that. The Addicks were unbreakable for huge swathes of the game yet Brentford kept going and going.

Patient. Calm. Never panicking. Thomas galvanising his troops and showing them his whiteboard. Benrahma coming ever closer until finally we were level. Then we were ahead.

The last few minutes of that one were played out with a level of calm which was far too at odds with the pressure of the situation. That’s Thomas Frank, though. He inspires. He exudes confidence. Positivity emanating from every pore. And it is infectious.

Whilst probably not the word of choice at present, it is the most apt I can think of to describe his Thomas Frank effect. We’re going to win today. We’re going to take Brentford back up to third place. And whilst I’d expect West Bromwich Albion to triumph at Blackburn Rovers, if the Ewood Park outfit are to have any hope of reaching the play-offs then their own victory today is essential.

Screenshot 2020-07-09 at 06.22.06

Thomas does his thing

Thomas may not be a man for permutations. He has made it quite clear he only cares what his team do. The table gets nothing more than a cursory glance. Us fans are anything but. We know what other results can do. We have a permanent eye on them. For crying out loud, I even sat through Leeds United v Stoke during the week. That’s two hours I’ll never get back. There were only two teams in that game – Leeds and United. 

Will they improve enough to stop Brentford? Can Thomas Frank inspire his team to even bigger and better things. Will Phillip Cocu have delivered the mother of all team talks to fire his boys up? If nothing else, they are only three points off the play-off zone and so have more than enough incentive, despite recent results.

Oh, I wish I could be at this one. Instead, its a TV game for us. For everyone. Although a game made all the more challenging in our house by the fact that we have longstanding plans with friends and so can’t even watch it live. The bringing forward of the game to lunchtime a final straw in the coffin of being able to watch it. Instead, it’ll be a case of ‘phones off’, hitting ‘record’ and thing going into ‘Likely Lads’ mode. Then hoping we don’t stumble across it somehow.     

Hmmmm.

IMG_4135

Togetherness – my abiding image of the season to date

Nick Bruzon

It’s………….Wayne Rooney’s Account

3 Jan

Brentford host Stoke City in the FA Cup tomorrow. Liverpool moved 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League, having gone unbeaten in a year after yesterday’s 20 win over Sheffield United. However, none of that matters compared to the 2-1 victory for Wayne Rooney’s Derby County over Barnsley, played out live on Sky Sports last night to the entire planet. A dominant Wayne Rooney destroyed the Tykes, as the newly appointed Wayne Rooney’s Derby County captain provided both assists and scored a brace on his long awaited debut.

You’ll forgive me for feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the Derby County love in that took place on Thursday evening. Or, specifically, that surrounding the all time England goal scoring record holder. I hadn’t realised. If only somebody had said. About a dozen times. Every touch from the stocky looking midfielder was greeted as though it had been played by Pele. Every pass seemingly as sublime as a Cristiano Ronaldo through ball. 

Only an idiot would fail to realise that Wayne’s arrival was going to attract attention. That was guaranteed from the announcement of his signing, the gifting of his traditional ’32’ shirt and the protected lead up to this one. By the time the 34 year old finally made his debut it was beyond all previously seen hype levels. The records set by Frank Lampard’s Derby County being obliterated within moments of coverage starting. You’d be forgiven for thinking the family Rooney had somehow hacked Sky’s account to influence the coverage, such was the fascination. Except, of course, that sort of stuff could never happen. Carry on like this and they’re going to shit themselves next Saturday when the cameras are back at Griffin Park for Brentford – QPR.

Except, of course, they won’t. We aren’t global. We don’t have his former glories. His baggage. His wife, who was there looking on from the stands and even got her own graphic. His wage bill.

Good luck to Derby County. Limping past rapidly improving Barnsley, to stay in 17th place in the Championship, is only the first step in what will need to become a very much long term project. Who knows? Wayne could be the man to inspire them. Filling the Championship void left by the departure of Aston Villa’s John Terry.  Inspiring his younger team mates to retain their former glories. It’s going to be a lot easier – for them and for us – without the eyes of the world watching.

Two tweets summed it up for me last night. This is what it felt like for anyone outside the Pride Park love in.

There we go. The high bar has been set. No doubt the media will now be tripping over themselves to shoot him down the second anything, no matter how small, fails to go to plan. Derby and Bet 32 have take an a massive gamble. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Getting back to TW8, Brentford and Stoke meet in the FA Cup third round on Saturday. With promotion to the Premier League very much a genuine aspiration at present, what would you do if you were Thomas Frank? Give the B team and substitutes a run out or stick with the team that has done so well over these last few months?

For me, Clive, it’s an odd one. I absolutely love the FA Cup and have advocated full strength for year after year,. The chance to progress in this famous old competition too big an opportunity to cast aside with abandon. The potential of entertaining a Liverpool or Manchester City a delicious incentive for reaching the fourth round. Moreso in what is our final season in Griffin Park.

Yet, yet, yet….. Bloody hell. We’re third in the Championship. The gap to seventh place is starting to grow. The two teams above us – Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion, whilst still well, well clear are both starting to wobble. Relatively. Each team having a current league record of only one win in five. If ever there was a time to give the first team a chance to catch their breath then now is the moment that Thomas Frank could be forgiven. For letting the broader squad stay match fit.

I’m absolutely with him on this one. I’m fully expecting the BMW to stay in the garage. For Luke Daniels to be named captain. For Julian Jeanvier to start this one after Ethan Pinnock as come in and performed heroics alongside Pontus. For the long awaited debut of Halil Dervisoglu – should clearance come through 🙂 .

And, it would seem, I’m not alone. As ever, the medium of Twitter summarising in one comment more than all this gubbins could ever do….

Whomever Thomas picks, it’s still a special occasion. Still a game we’ll be going out 100% to win. Whilst I’m absolutely with Luis on the team selection strategy, it doesn’t mean the occasion will be enjoyed any less. The desperation to win as enormous as ever. Peter Gilham busting a gut to big up the crowd. Tin foil trophies being hoisted high in the sky. The lure of Wembley still as strong as ever.

I can’t wait for this one. Bring it on!! Whatever the team.

FA Cup tin foil

Nothing says FA Cup tradition like a home made trophy

Nick Bruzon

Thomas Frank’s Demolition Derby.

1 Sep

Well that was something else. Brentford tanked Derby County in a game that finished 3-0 and could easily have seen the scoreline double that. It really was as dominant a performance as one could hope for against a team who, back to full strength after their mid-week changes against Nottingham Forest in the cup (that worked well), offered nothing. Their manager Philip Cocu would afterwards accuse his team of ‘arrogance’. It looked more like impotence to me, with the Rams unable to penetrate as the Bees ran riot.

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Raining (goals) at Griffin Park

Brentford were boosted by the news that Saïd Benrahama was finally able to start a game. What a performance he put in. But then you could say the same for Bryan Mbuemo on the right and Sergi Canos coming from the wing back position. With Rico pushing high on the other side  it really was about as attacking a team one could expect to see. Topping it off was Ollie Watkins in centre forward role. Norgaard and Jenssen are becoming stronger and stronger in the middle whilst the final three of Jeanvier, Pontus and Dalsgaard were rock solid in the rare moments of the visitors breaking through. David Raya was in goal but it could have been David Bowie and we’d probably still have kept a clean sheet.

Mbuemo got the first on 17, after Watkins had been denied whilst the favour was returned just 60 second later. Ollie sliding home after a wonderful move. Mbuemo supplying the killer pass but don’t underestimate the work performed by Sergi Canos in either goal. He was magnificent. Devastating. Destructive. Left the Rams tied up in knots.

That it was only three at half time is a question to rank alongside where the Derby County of last season have gone. Back to their parent clubs from loans, perhaps ? Either way, there was no answer to the waves of relentless Brentford pressure. Ollie wrapped up the scoring before going in for his half-time cuppa but the Bees could equally have had a penalty after Keogh was adjudged not to have handballed it. Hmmm. Move along Derby, nothing to see here.

The second half continued as the first had ended. Bees on top. Derby nowhere. To be fair, they did have a shot but Raya had it covered. And that was it from the visitors. If anything Brentford could, probably should, have made it at least four. If not more. Mbuemo seemed clean through with the goal gaping although the benefit of hindsight and TV show the good work done by Roos in the County goal. Likewise, when Ollie found himself sprinting clear for the hat-trick chance. Keeper Roos came bouncing out of the box to chest it away.

The return of dancing Buzzette and Saïd had the crowd buzzing from the off. The enthusiasm was tangible. Whether Peter Gilham almost exploding as he announced the second goal through to Benrahama’s post-substitution long walk back to the dugouts, whipping up the home fans behind the goal to further heights of excitement. And there he was at full time once more, taking HB’s request for a selfie into something quite unexpected. The positivity coursing through the team a joy to behold. The relationship with the supporters as strong as ever.

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Saïd helps HB take the search for the perfect selfie to the next level.

Thomas Frank noted at full time that “The first 45 minutes is one of the best I have seen at Griffin Park since I have been here”. There can’t be any out there who would disagree. The second wasn’t bad either, although could never compare to the explosive opener. Had one of those other chances gone in then who knows what might have been. However, to be anything but happy with such a comprehensive win over opponents who came so close to reaching the top flight last time out would be churlish. County weren’t even at the races. Brentford, like a champion derby winner.

The month has ended with Brentford recording wins over Derby and up at Middlesbrough. I’m still bamboozled by the points dropped against Birmingham City whilst we were a lick of paint away from maintaining our recent domination of Leeds United. Ollie is looking more and more comfortable up top whilst I’m loving Bryan Mbuemo. Here’s hoping September picks up where August left off.

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Men of the moment. Sergi and Ollie needed for a full house

Nick Bruzon

A positive end to an awful week. Can we go one better today?

31 Aug

Normality returns today. Kind of. Brentford host Derby County at Griffin Park having reached the end of a week that saw Bury expelled from the football league and Bolton Wanderers narrowly avoid the same fate. We’ve updated TV news, with the 237 derby game at Loftus Road seeing us becoming a diet version of Sky Sports Leeds (that’s two appearances in as many months for us)  and there was the brilliance from Brentford ‘official’ on Twitter yesterday. Have they done their best ever tweet?

First up, the visit from Frank Lampard’s former club, Frank Lampard’s Derby County. Or just Derby County as we can thankfully call them once more. That really was getting tedious. Say what you want about the Rams but they came so close last time . There was the wonderful turn around against Leeds United as the Elland Road side fell apart, again, in the play-off semi before suffering the ultimate pain. They could only look on as John Terry lifted the winner’s trophy high into the Wembley sky and Aston Villa reached the Premiership.

That end of season agony has continued this time around. Whilst Leeds have picked themselves up and gone again, and Villa have now recorded their first top flight points under Dean Smith, things haven’t been quite so easy for Derby. Like the Bees, they’ve only picked up one win so far and that was against hapless Huddersfield Town. Both clubs find themselves in the bottom third of the fledgling table and will, obviously, be keen to record the win that sees things heading back up in the direction they are more accustomed to.

The news is positive. For Brentford. FloJo is set to miss out for out guests, as does Bogle. We’ve the potential return of Said Benrahma to the starting XI whilst there’s a chance for our first look at new striker Nikoloas Karelis. He looks an absolute unit – and that’s just from the picture on the squad page – so it will be interesting to see how he fits in as the meat in the sandwich of our always impressive wide men.

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Karelis – the meat in a wide man sandwich

Even better though, word on the street reaches me that Buzzette is set to return. Whilst, of course, she has been present this season it is just that. Being present. The normal spring in the step and enthusiastic dancing have been somewhat lacking. With it, the team’s fortunes have been on the down turn. Has she been carrying an undisclosed injury? Perhaps struggling with a protracted summer holiday? Either way, I gather her coach has had a word, she’s been declared fully fit and back to normal so we can once more expect to see her busting those inspirational moves, throwing shapes and doing whatever else it is the kids do as the discotheque.

Away from Griffin Park, I’m at a loss for what to say about the Bury / Bolton situation. From the impotent handling of matters by the EFL through to their apparent willingness to let one our our oldest clubs go to the wall, it has been heartbreaking. Gigg Lane was the first away ground I visited, back in the 80s, and was a journey I always looked to make whenever possible. Seeing this play out has been agonising.

I’m just an onlooker – once can’t begin to even imagine the pain that their supporters and staff are going through right now. It’s shameful that it was allowed to get this far and then play out in such a crushing denouement. All we’ve been left with is a dead club and the footballing equivalent of Donald Trump offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ after a mass shooting.

The only positives, if there can be any, from this shameful situation are that, at least, Bolton are still with us. That does then lead to whole host of further questions to the EFL as to how one club can be given a further extension but not the other. And it is where we get the other news, which I read this morning. Bury aren’t giving up and there is an interesting piece on the BBC in regards to potential legal action, given the way that the final nail was driven into their coffin. There is talk of additional bids being ignored, amongst other things. It is well worth a read and can be found here.

The whole situation is all the more ironic given the amounts of money being pumped into the higher level of the game by Sky, amongst others. Their own decision to rebrand an articifical ‘deadline day’ with ticking countdown clock was a shameful one and , rightly, came in for criticism from all quarters. Dignity? Respect? Who needs them when there’s a joke angle that can be had at the expense of people’s livelihoods and a club’s very existence? 

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Stay classy, Sky.

And now they’ve gone and picked us for TV. We’re already on at Barnsley in late September. Make that twice in successive months with the rematch against Mark Warburton, Yoann Barnet and QPR has been moved to Monday 28 October. You can understand why. Any history aside, there are sure to be goals in this now with Barbet currently shipping penalties for fun this season. His ‘go again’ key getting a right hammering at present. Although knowing us, it’ll be the fans in the upper tier returning any spot kick rather than the not so super-hoops’ goalkeeper ! Come on lads, prove me wrong.    

There was a positive end to the week. At least on social media where ‘official’ are definitely finding their feet after the never forgotten shame of #trophyfriends. Friday’s 4-1 humping of QPR in a U-23 game was most notable for our second goal. The prolific A. Trialist, a player who has had more clubs than former Bee Steve Claridge, popped up to head home from Ali Coote. This, in a move which began form a short corner (not a typo).     

So it was all the better when ‘official’ got in on the act, with one of those goal gifs/memes ( I never know which is which) made popular by Bristol City. Who needs comedy acting when you have comedy word kits. Magnificent. I want one.

Great work all round. See you in the club shop at lunchtime. 

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A Trialist. From a short corner. What’s not to love?

Nick Bruzon

The top 12 ‘search terms’ lead to an awkward repeat of past form.

27 Aug

The calm between the storms. Brentford have been and done with the game at Charlton Athletic. The visit of Derby County awaits. I’m not going to deny that Sunday saw somewhat of a cop out in regards to the blog – albeit I stand by what I did. Sometimes, less is more and one can only hope that is the approach taken this coming weekend. Having all the possession and chances counts for nothing if we can’t quite do the business in the final section of the pitch. Something that I am sure will be put right when we receive our latest visit from Frank Lampa….. sorry, old habits die hard.

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Being John Frankovich  – no longer a thing 

But with a lazy approach to the weekend review and nothing really happening on bank holiday Monday (from a footballing perspective), that Derby game seems a long way off. On the plus side, it has allowed a chance to play around with the backend static data on these pages. This is territory we visited back in the very early days of this site. So early that  Uwe Rosler was still in charge at the time. 

Screenshot 2019-08-26 at 21.30.58It was a chance to look at the search terms used by the Internet ( I can take no credit for that side of things) to drive people to one of these articles.

Phrases that, when typed into AOL (Ah, Connie – whatever happened to you and your interactive dress?), Google or Ask Jeeves would then suggest that there may be a relevant article on these pages. Or an interesting one. Your definition of both may, of course, vary.

Yet whilst proving a great source of data, these ‘search terms’ also reveal that there are some people out there with a very niche set of preferences. And that the combination of seemingly innocent key words used in the context of a football blog may be less than innocent when typed in by the (probably) sticky fingers of cyber nerds.

People have ventured here whilst looking for everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. Some of them Brentford related. Some of them not. Amongst other things, these include:

sex pies

Frank Mcparland milk

Sam Warburton naked

Sam Saunders rubber glove

Dickie Davies Asahi beer

Helen Chamberlain leather

Barry Hearn Chuckle brothers

How much is Matthew Benham worth

Harlee Dean fishslapping

Buzzette snapchat

Feet pictures

And my particular favourite : Nick Prochwitz tattoo. 

The mind boggles as to whether that was somebody looking to get one or simply checking out the player’s own bodywork . Either way, not good. 

Sam and Dickie. Both have been pictured over the years

Yet whilst looking through these search terms, one in particular caught my eye. Super Victor. In an instant I was taken back three and a bit years to a piece written at the start of the Euro 2016 football tournament and UEFA’s chosen mascot. He of the aforementioned name. Something particularly pertinent given the recent piece about the 2020 equivalent, and it still hurts to say this….…. ‘Skillzy’. Urghh. Feel so dirty.

If the top knotted friend of the children is bad, and he/she/it IS, then it’s nothing compared to the accident that was Super Victor. In more ways than one. You’d think UEFA would learn and hark back to the simpler days of Sweden 1992’s ‘Rabbit’.

Ironically, one so popular he was ported over directly from the previous tournament in 1988 – the only time a mascot has appeared twice. But no, instead of a reproducing rabbit they went for Super Victor. And by the time he had been plastered all over the 2016 tournament, it was too late.

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(l-r) Rabbit 1988/92 ; Super Victor 2016 ; ‘Skillzy’ 2020

Only then was it discovered that he shared his name with what was tactfully described as a 5.5kg, 10 inch long ‘industrial sized’ marital aid. People checking out the story at the time were advised not to look up ‘Super Victor Toy’ or visit online adult ‘shopping sites’. Please don’t do it now. I did, for research purposes, and have had to delete my history.

Connie and Jeeves would likely have gone into meltdown whilst nobody wanted any embarrassing incidents in the name of research. The Guardian were amongst those who lead the story back then. They also quoted a source from UEFA who advised, “All we can say is that they [the sex aids] are not produced by Uefa.

Given Braemar Road JJ had broken the whole ‘Skillzy’ story, I felt duty bound to return the favour last night and introduce him to Super Victor. NOT like that. Get your minds out of the gutter. His own take was as special as last time: 

 That mascot really is taking a shocker but, mate- if there’s anything even more wrong than a mashup between Corey out of Slipknot and something from Japanese Kabuki theatre, it’s a six year old with a serious coke habit…

And, as ever, I can’t top that. JJ – here are the keys to the Last Word site. Over to you sir…

Nick Bruzon

New kit goes for a spin and implications of Frank Lampard news considered.

5 Jul

We’ll keep this brief today. On the Brentford front there was a debut for the new 2019/20 kit as the B team began pre-season with a 5-0 win at Bedfont Sports. Yet the big Championship story was one which unfolded when Frank Lampard left Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™ to become the new Chelsea manager. It is one which we draw particular attention to, given the weekend column where this possibility was talked up along with the question of what the Pride Park club would be known as ongoing. It is a question which, it seems, we may have been somewhat presumptive in answering. 

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Chelsea ‘official’ share the news on Twitter

We all know about the media love-in with Frank and Derby. The fact that the team seemed to undertake a universal name change where it was simply impossible to see one mentioned without the other in journalistic circles. 

This is something we’ve picked up with sledgehammer like unsubtlety on these pages. But why not? Moreso given that this ‘joke’, something about as funny as an episode of Mrs. Brown’s Boys, was thought to have come to an end following Frank’s appointment at Chelsea. 

Indeed, we had remarked perviously that, Primarily, the immediate logical step being one which will see the Pride Park outfit having to be renamed. At present, the hot favourite title in the frame is a simple ‘Derby County’ . This is a choice which will only be seen as a nice historical nod to their origins and one which may help appease fans, upset by the loss of a man who helped keep them in sixth place in the Championship after replacing Gary Rowett”.

But are we wrong? It would seem there are alternatives being put out there – both variants on a similar theme. One suggestion hints that ongoing, rather than a return to Derby County journalists are considering rebranding the club as : Frank Lampard’s former club Frank Lampard’s Derby County.

However, another source close to the club tells me that is is thought to be somewhat of a laboured mouthful. Instead  they are close to settling on one of either : Frank Lampard’s former club Derby County or… New Chelsea manager Frank Lampard’s former club Derby County.

All bets will be off if Frank Lampard Senior takes over but whichever way this one turns out , don’t expect this nonsense to end anytime soon. If for no other reason a similar fate is already playing out in the Championship.  We’ve seen it starting to occur at The Riverside where Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough are looking forward to life with their new manager. 

 As for Brentford, what can you say about last night’s 5-0 win for the B-team? Well, not much from here as yours truly was more focussed with keeping tabs on Flying Ant Day (which was formally declared at 7.33pm following multiple reports flooding in from West London and beyond).

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Yet social media was awash with pictures of the lads in action with as much focus turning to the new home kit and a reveal of our more traditional goalkeeper’s shirt. An all green number rather than the electric blue/orange combo that had been revealed earlier in the month (which you can see in the full fat match report on ‘official’, here) . 

I’ve made no secret about being a fan of this season’s shirt – one of, if not the, best in years. Perhaps the white socks are a look we’re going to have to get a little more used to, although I’m sure this is something that will only be a requirement in a ‘clash’ situation.  Here’s hoping ! 

And finally, as unsubtle as ever,  for things that may not be worth so much of a read (but are for a great cause).. please do download a copy of the Last Word season season review – containing the least bad of these columns from the World Cup to Aston Villa deserving to win the play offs. It also includes the World Cup aswell as all the ‘Park Life’ articles submitted for the matchday programme and so not previously available on these pages.  

ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so what better way to remind yourself how brilliant 2018/19 was? To kill a bit of time on the commute to work / on your summer holidays / on the toilet etc You can download it , now, for your kindle , iPod telephone or other electronic reading device here.

At £1.99 it’s cheaper than half a pint so what’s to lose? Apart from £1.99 – which then goes to The Community Sports Trust anyway. Many thanks again. And enjoy.

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Nick Bruzon